The Agape Mystery

We have spent our season of Lent in the shadow of mystery. We have explored such mysteries like the Trinity, the Incarnation, the messianic mystery, prayer, death, and last night at the Maundy Thursday service, we focused on the mystery of Love. As I said last night, some might think last night was the night to focus on the problem of Evil or suffering. In fact, “Maundy” comes from the Latin Maundatum, and means Madate or commandment. You see, the whole focus of Maundy Thursday is on Christ’s last command, “to Love one another as I have loved you.” On the surface, it does not seem too terribly mysterious, but when you look at the Greek word for love used in this passage “Agape” (in Greek there are 6 different words for love and each refers to a unique kind of love), you come to find that what Christ is commanding us to do is a bit mysterious—or at the very least, incredibly challenging. Agape is the kind of love that we are to have for ALL people. Notice the caps there—ALL PEOPLE! Christ offers us a challenge that often escapes us—to be filled with an overflowing love that encompasses all people and all creation. Mind you, this is not the kind of love that we talk about on greeting cards, or the superficial stuff that the culture likes to bat around. This is a deep and abiding sense of love that causes us to act differently—to live differently. It becomes an ironic tale when Christ’s command is then followed by betrayal, denial, torture, and death—all at the hands of the ones he loved, and the ones that he commanded to love one another. In the gospel of Luke, we are even blessed with further exhibitions of Christ’s Agape love for all of us from the cross after all the ways that we returned his love with hate.

 

The beauty of Easter is that the empty tomb is not just about Christ’s resurrection. That empty tomb is also a clean slate for all of us. We have shown again and again, that we have failed to love one another, but Easter is a new chance to try to embody Christ’s love again—and we will probably need more chances to boot! The point is—take this command seriously! Remember it means ALL PEOPLE! Even the ones you don’t like, even the ones who commit terrible acts, even the ones who vote for that other person you disagree with, even the people who have done terrible things to you. The mystery of love, is that we are called to do it in such extravagant ways that it boggles the mind!

 

Finally, remember that box in the sanctuary? You might finally have some answers to at least one mystery this Sunday…

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